Will address concerns over shutting of 1,314 schools, says Maharashtra education minister
The NHRC had issued a notice to the Maharashtra government seeking a detailed report on the move to close government-aided schools with 10 or less number of students. The state has been given four weeks to submit its response.mumbai Updated: Dec 29, 2017 00:34 IST
State education minister Vinod Tawde, on Thursday, said that the government will address the concerns raised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the closure of 1,314 schools that have low enrolment. "The NHRC notice is a blessing in disguise. I can now prove that my decision is justified. We will answer the issues raised by NHRC properly, legally and in the spirit of preserving the right to education (RTE)," he said.
The NHRC had issued a notice to the Maharashtra government seeking a detailed report on the move to close government-aided schools with 10 or less number of students. The state has been given four weeks to submit its response.
The state’s decision has been estimated to impact 4,093 primary and secondary schools. In the first phase, 1,314 schools are being shut down with immediate effect. Students from primary schools will be shifted to other schools within a one-kilometreradius, while secondary school students will be transferred to schools within a 3-kilometre radius. Students from 250 schools have already been transferred, while the process of transferring students from 280 more schools is underway.
The Commission, however, said that the decision would affect students, particularly those who hail from rural areas and may not be able to afford a private school education.It added that before the implementation of this decision, a thorough study on the issue should be conducted to ensure that the children’s right to basic education is not violated.
Tawde, however, insisted that the decision was taken with a view of providing better quality education to students. "Education is not just about learning from the textbook. We want to provide an inclusive education. In larger schools, students get an opportunity to socialise and compete with their peers," he said.
Tawde said that most of the low-enrolment schools being shut were originally established in 2000 as 'community schools' and were run by the local communities. After the RTE act came into effect in 2008, 3,384 of 7,389 community schools were converted to regular primary schools and 686 schools were shut.
Earlier, a group of 42 educationists had written to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis suggesting that the move violates the RTE act, which requires the state to provide education to students within one kilometre of their homes. Urdu medium teachers have also opposed the move to transfer their students to Marathi medium school.
Tawde sought to address some of the issues raised by the educationists. “If the route to school gets flooded in the rainy season, the classes can be conducted in the original school,” he said. “Urdu medium students who are being transferred to Marathi medium schools will get to learn in their mother tongue itself, as their teachers will also be transferred along with them,” he added.